Leading in the Security Industry

April 4, 2023

Dating back to 1933, Saudi Arabia has been a longstanding ally of the United States, with the two countries sharing a close partnership in both resources and intelligence. The United States has been a longstanding provider of military and economic aid to the kingdom. Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil exporter, making it a critical strategic partner in the Middle East. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia and the United States have worked closely together to counter terrorism, including groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS/ISIL.

However, recent years have seen this relationship tested by several factors, including human rights abuses, the Saudi-led war in Yemen, and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The killing of Khashoggi in 2018 inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul led to international outrage and strained the relationship between the two countries. As a result, the United States imposed sanctions on several Saudi officials and restricted arms sales to the kingdom in response.

The war in Yemen has also been a contentious issue between Saudi Arabia and the United States, with the Saudi-led coalition accused of committing numerous human rights violations in the conflict. Additionally, the United States has faced criticism for supporting the coalition, with lawmakers calling for an end to military aid to the kingdom.

Despite these challenges, Saudi Arabia has remained, until recently, a vital regional strategic partner for the United States, particularly given the ongoing conflict with Iran. Moreover, the kingdom is a critical player in efforts to stabilize the global energy market, which has significant implications for U.S. national security, as the United States relies on Saudi Arabia for a significant portion of its oil imports. Consequently, any disruption to the global energy market could have severe economic fallout and consequences for the United States and the U.S. currency.

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However, the United States must balance its strategic interests with its commitment to human rights and democracy. Noting the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the ongoing conflict in Yemen again highlight the challenges of maintaining a close relationship with the kingdom. To that effect, U.S. policymakers have attempted to navigate these challenges carefully to protect U.S. interests and promote human rights and democracy in the Middle East. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States’ foreign influence had been diminished by various circumstances, and so were various regional intelligence collection efforts. 

According to these recent news outlets, Saudi Arabia’s relationship with China has grown, with the two countries deepening their economic and political ties. China is now Saudi Arabia’s largest trading partner and the kingdom is a critical player in China’s Belt and Road Initiative. While this partnership may challenge U.S. interests in the region, it is essential to note that Saudi Arabia’s relationship with the United States remains strong. In the past, Saudi Arabia has relied heavily on U.S. military support and equipment, and the United States remains a partner in the fight against terrorism.

It is also important to note that Saudi Arabia and China have different priorities and goals. Saudi Arabia has traditionally been aligned with the United States and other Western powers, while China has pursued a more independent foreign policy. While both countries seek to expand their influence in the Middle East, they do so in different ways and with different objectives.

Threats to the United States could grow through a by-proxy relationship ahead of a U.S. 2024 presidential election. Should this article below be factual, It would be assessed that the Saudis will rely on China and likely be asked to step up and support the Saudi foreign military aid needs the United States has long sought to defend and provide for. 

In conclusion, the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States is complex and multifaceted. While the two countries have always shared vital strategic interests, the United States must also consider the human rights implications of its relationship with the kingdom. Moreover, the growing Saudi/China relationship could challenge U.S. regional interests. Therefore, U.S. policymakers must continue to monitor China’s expanding influence in the Middle East and work to protect U.S. interests.

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